Life is full of mystery and wonders, especially as you go on day-to-day. You wonder why in the world would God give you this life? We weren’t made to be perfect, but we were made to inspire for all kinds of reasons. The ladies of Sundance Channels’ reality show Push Girls, gives people a chance to see real women accepting themselves and finding ways to live their lives even though they are in wheelchairs. I find this show inspiring, not because I’m in wheelchair too. I find it inspiring because of the fact growing up, I never understood why God made me this way. I never understood why I wasn’t like the other girls in school. And lastly, I was never able to accept myself for who I was, wheelchair and all.
Yes, it is a little bit different for me to watch a show where all of the girls weren’t exactly born with their paralysis. I was born with a disease, actually I had four diseases. Arothgryposis, which is a joint disease. I have Scoliosis. I had three back surgeries when I was younger. I now have titanium rods in my spine. I also have a rocker bottom foot and a club foot. Growing up, I remember looking in mirrors, looking at my back and hating the hump on my back because of my Scoliosis. After I had my surgeries and that went away, I think secretly I wished surgery could take away everything else that I hated about myself. When I was a toddler, my parents took me to Riley’s Hospital and they give them a plan to have all these surgeries to fix everything from my feet to my back. I can remember my mom telling me once that they wanted to do this, but they didn’t want me to have all those surgeries to fix me. When I went to Shriner’s the only surgery they mainly wanted to do was my back. Back then, I had also wondered about having my feet worked on as well. So I could be able to walk, but as I kept talking with it to my mom, she told me that if I had the surgery, what if I had the surgeries on my feet and I still can’t walk? I might lose my ability to write with my feet. If those two things were to happen, I think I would pretty much give up on life. Because I can live with being in a wheelchair for the rest of my life. I can’t use my ability to do a number of things with my feet. Back then, I just wanted to be like everybody else. That’s all I strived for.
The more I watch the show and I look at the girls and their lives. It makes me feel like maybe one day I can finally accept myself in the wheelchair and have some more independence if I find some more resources that fit me. In school, I didn’t have anyone that inspired me. I was the only girl in the wheelchair out of three boys. It was very strange for me and sometimes I felt like I was in a bubble, because I still wanted to be like everybody else, I wanted my independence from the boys and the aides. You begin to hate a lot of people who want to help you, when all you want to do is help yourself. I have never been the one to ask for help. It’s bad enough I can’t take myself to the bathroom in the mornings, I can’t change my clothes, I can’t clean myself. There are a lot of things that I never noticed before until I started watching Angela and her caretaker Auntie Judy. Basically, that’s my life in a sense. I am able to do things (if I take off the seatbelt) in my chair that she wouldn’t be able to do. I think just watching Auntie Judy taking care of her and seeing everything she does. It took me 21 years to appreciate what my parents and sister do for me. It took me that long because I have never met or seen anybody do the almost exact same things.
Everytime I watch Push Girls I feel inspired to do more than I would have in the past. I still don’t like being in a crowd of people in wheelchair because I was never used to it. I used to play Powder Puff Football, it was four practices, you got a T-shirt, a number, and you got to play a game. It wasn’t like most sports where it was all in one season, you trained to every day for practically six months out of the year, but that’s only if you do one sport. I really enjoyed myself when I went to the practices and the games, but I wasn’t expected to play the first time. It was just a question that got answered and I got a touchdown. I actually got to understand what teamwork really stands for, because I had most of my team surrounding my wheelchair as I went across the field. When I was a senior, I didn’t want to give it up. I loved it so much because for once I was like everybody else. I don’t think I’d ever want to be in special olympics because I’m not used to being around other handicapped people. I mean, what would I do? I know there’s a long list of sports, but I don’t think I’m open enough to do it yet. I understand Mia when she was scared to back into swimming. She used to be a competitive swimmer and then she got paralyzed. I would be afraid to start swimming again especially if your bottom won’t move the way you want it to. She did it anyways, she went out and got back in the pool. So that’s why I said “yet” about maybe not doing special olympics, because I mean, who knows?
In both middle and high school, my friends were going out and having out. They went to parties and got drunk and all this stuff. I never got that normal teenage opportunity to drink before I turned 21. It’s a bad thing to drink underage, but it was one of the number of things I think I missed out on. I am now legal to drink with friends, but I have no friends. It’s funny how before it was “cool” to drink and hang out with your friends. Now nobody cares about you and they still drink without you. I think growing up as a teenager, I wanted to party and have fun. I just wanted to be accepted, that’s the lowest I was willing to put myself was to go out and drink. When I was a senior, one of my friends was having a party for graduation. They had property out in the country. I had asked my mom if I could go because I got invited to go. I told my friend that my mom was going to take me. This person practically got mean with me and said don’t tell your mom what we’re going to be doing. I understood why she said that, but how am I supposed to go out to a party in the middle of nowhere by myself? I think what drove me nuts about it is that my mom was the only way to get to places, so for my friends to say “hey Meghan’s coming, her mom is bringing her.” Yeah, I can see that as a big, “oh shit!” to everybody else who is underage and has already had a couple of beers or whatever. Tiphany still likes to go out with friends and she can too! She can drive an awesome Mustang and move herself in and out of her push wheelchair. I don’t think she really “drinks” anymore, but I know because I’ve seen in different episodes of her going out to clubs and all that. I would like to be able to go out to a bar and drink with my friends, but I can’t.
I think I have said the “can’t” a little bit too much. I don’t the word “can’t” is in Auti’s dictionary. Before she was paralyzed, she was a hip hop dancer. She is like the ultimate girl I would like to become one day. That’s pretty big for me to say, because I have never had a handicapped person as my inspiration. Auti is still a hip hop dancer. She dances in her wheelchair, which I find out that so cool! The first episode I watched on Sunday, was the episode she was doing a new challenge for herself. She entered a ballroom dance competition. She hired someone she knew and they came up with a routine to do. I think I cried more on that episode than any other (so far!) because of the fact that I love ballroom dancing. I would love to do it, but I have never seen a person in a wheelchair do it before. It was so refreshing! I wish there were more handicapped ballroom dancers. Could you imagine a dancer in a wheelchair on Dancing With The Stars? Auti is also married and wanting to have a baby. I would love to get married, but I have never went out on a date. I am afraid that I’ll never get married and have children because of my disability. It haunts me at night in my dreams, because I can see both in them, but I don’t know how to get that fear to go away. I feel like Auti is my future self or any of the other girls, staring me right in the face, saying this could be you if you just opened up your mind a little more and start accepting yourself in the wheelchair. Creepy part is, it’s all true.
I think I’ll accept myself as I continue to watch the show. I can’t change who I am. I don’t want to change my body because that’s what makes me original. Thanks to this show, I appreciate the people who do accept me and my family who do things for me everyday. I am a different creature from the rest and I like that. I think the ladies, underestimate themselves and I’m glad that they know what kind of message they bring to other girls and women in wheelchairs. Just because you’re in a wheelchair doesn’t mean your life is over. You don’t have to “fix” yourself to be like everybody else. I think after people watch the show, their views on us will hopefully change. I mean, let’s be honest here, they could be dead and then the world would be inspired to tan as dark as can be, do stupid stuff for money, fake a love for someone you saw on TV. I mean there are less good inspiring shows on TV. Everybody is sending the wrong message. I wish when I was younger, I had a show like Push Girls to help get me through all of the crap that I went through. I think my parents would have loved that to happen back then. Instead of hating our bodies, we need to accept that we can’t change ourselves. We would lack originality if we could.